HC rejects rebel AAP MLAs' plea for removal of speaker from disqualification proceedings
New Delhi: The Delhi High Court Monday dismissed the pleas of rebel AAP MLAs Anil Bajpai and Col Devender Sehrawat who sought recusal of the Legislative Assembly Speaker from disqualification proceedings against them.
Justice Vibhu Bakhru said there was "no infirmity" in the procedure adopted by Speaker Ram Niwas Goel and rejected the MLAs' contention that he should have first decided their application, alleging bias on his part, before going ahead with the proceedings.
The court said there was no law which said that the Speaker has to decide the issues "piecemeal" and added that he can comprehensively decide the entire matter. It said however that "the Speaker will address all the contentions advanced by the petitioners (MLAs)".
The court also noted the submission made on behalf of the Speaker that the MLAs would be granted two more days time to file their response to the notice issued to them on the petition seeking their disqualification under the anti-defection law.
AAP MLA Saurabh Bharadwaj on June 10 filed the petition seeking their disqualification under the anti-defection law for allegedly joining the BJP. The Speaker had on June 17 issued notice to the two MLAs asking them to file their response by July 8 (Monday evening).
During the proceedings in the high court, the lawyers for Bajpai and Sehrawat told the court that the Speaker is not supposed to have political inclinations, but was seen attending events and protests of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP).
They said the Speaker was however even seen "dancing" in the Lok Sabha poll campaign of AAP candidate Atishi Marlena.
They alleged that in these circumstances, the Speaker might not impartially adjudicate the disqualification proceedings and said that the issue be sent either to the Deputy Speaker or a committee be constituted to hear the matter.
However, the court said it was "not going to interdict the Speaker" and added that the petitioners have the remedy of appeal against his decision.
As the two MLAs' lawyers discussed whether to withdraw the petition and agree to participate in the disqualification proceedings, Sehrawat decided to discharge them from his matter and got up to argue his case on his own.
Sehrawat told the court that he was one of the founding members of AAP and that the party has now "changed".
"Everything the party has stood for has changed," he told the court and said that since the Speaker was behaving as a member of AAP, he should not be hearing the disqualification proceedings.